UPDATE 1/23/07 1:54pm PT: I received background comment on all of this from a Pelosi aide late yesterday afternoon who promised to send an official statement, their position, the Constitutionality issue (there is none), etc. Their official statement, seeming to close the door on this possibility, is now posted here along with some additional thoughts.
I've received extraordinarily positive responses to my call, as posted on Friday at both Huff Po and BRAD BLOG, calling on Congressional Democrats to allow Virginia's Sen. Jim Webb to deliver his Opposition Response to the State of the Union Address to the entire, full, joint session of Congress just after George W. Bush finishes his on Tuesday night.
That, instead of the usual limp response as performed in front of a single TV camera in some studio somewhere which can't hope to compete with the live "Presidential Performance" moments before to a packed house.
I've come to understand the tradition of such a response has been in play since 1966 --- a relic of the Reagan-dissolved 'Fairness Doctrine' --- and, like the President's televised speech before a full joint session of Congress, has no actual basis in the Constitution. Both are simply done that way largely by tradition. Even Presidents as recently as Jimmy Carter chose to deliver the State of the Union via a letter to Congress instead.
Nothing now keeps Congressional Democrats, in charge of both the House and Senate, from changing the Pres-Joint Session/Oppo-Basement Response tradition other than the courage and fortitude to do so. Buoyed by overwhelming support from the American people last November to take back power from a runaway Imperial Presidency, it's time for them to take the stage they deserve, and give Webb the podium to make their case before the entire joint session just after Dubya.
But, being Democrats, they may need your help to show that courage and fortitude.
My complete editorial originally making the case for giving Webb the platform we all deserve has, so far, far been posted in full at a number of websites, including TruthDig, RAW STORY, OpEd News, After Downing Street, Democratic Underground, Left in Aboite and NYTimes' About.com.
Off-the-record response to the idea, as received from various politicos inside the beltway, has been quite positive.
But it will still take a lot of noise and many citizens standing up to call for this in order for the Democrats to show the courage they'd need to make this bold and important change to the years-long tradition of relegating Opposition SOTU Responses to the dim recesses of some poorly lit makeshift TV studio somewhere.
In addition to passing the original editorial virally around the net and elsewhere, some specific calls and/or emails may be in order. To that end, I might suggest as many folks as possible contact the following offices as soon as they can to strongly advocate for this important, and if I say so myself, excellent idea.
Sen. Jim Webb
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Phone: (202) 225-4965
Sen. Harry Reid
Phone: (202) 224-3542
As usual, don't rely on others to take action here. It's your country. Take it back.
If you have other thoughts on how to help encourage Democrats to allow for the above, please post them in Comments below --- or just take action!
(NOTE TO REPUBLICANS: This idea would likely become a new tradition, and would thus be one that your party would similarly find beneficial if the Democrats are ever able to figure out how to get seated in the White House in the future.)
Copyright notice: Please feel free to copy the above article in full and distribute it far and wide with attribution to Brad Friedman and The BRAD BLOG (www.BradBlog.com)